Why Lethal Aid Can't Help Ukraine

Ukrainian servicemen stand in line during a rehearsal for Independence Day military parade in Kiev

Arming Ukraine could put the United States in an awkward position vis-à-vis its NATO allies.

To be sure, the departure of Russian troops would not solve the myriad problems Ukraine still must overcome; for example, what to do about Crimea or how to placate dissatisfied eastern provinces. There is no military solution in Ukraine, as these sorts of problems are best solved by diplomacy. Moreover, Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and the United States is not obligated to come to its aid. Ukraine must consider other solutions.

Giving lethal aid to Ukraine could also put the United States in an awkward position vis-à-vis its NATO allies. Importantly, NATO allies like France and Germany acknowledge the Russian point of view about arming Ukraine, and have previously said that providing Ukraine with lethal weaponry would constitute a “dangerous, permanent escalation” against Russia. Indeed, France and Germany are still calling for a negotiated solution as of last month, and “German, French, and other Western European defense ministers did not attend” events during Mattis’s trip to Ukraine. It is unclear how lethal aid would accelerate a diplomatic outcome.

Although the conflict in Ukraine is a tragedy, the United States can do little. Furthermore, Ukraine’s security has little to do with the fundamental safety of the United States. President Trump should not send lethal aid to Ukraine, and should avoid further entangling the United States into this conflict.

Julie Thompson is a policy and research analyst at the Charles Koch Institute. She earned a Master of International Affairs from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

Image: Reuters